Unions

Phone Blast Action To Support Jimmy John's Workers!

IWW - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 11:52

On Labor Day - Monday, Sept. 1st - workers at a Jimmy Johns franchise in Baltimore, Maryland are taking action with their union - the IWW Jimmy Johns Workers Union! They will be flyering outside of their store today in order to press for their demands. Lets give their action a little more oomph and show the bosses that we union members stick together! We will be in front of the store from noon (12:00) EST until 2:00 EST, lets keep the phones ringing! A couple of ground rules: no threatening, try to avoid profanity, and most importantly call often!

Here are the numbers to call:

Mike Gillett (franchise owner): 410-404-5684
Daniel Dolch (franchise owner): 443-797-2472

And here is what you should say (feel free to add more though!):

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Categories: Unions

Happy Labor Day Weekend

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:58

August 29, 2014: Happy Labor Day Weekend, from your brothers and sisters in Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

On Labor Day, we celebrate the union movement—the folks that brought you the weekend, the 8-hour day, retirement with dignity and the middle class.

Employers and corporate politicians want to roll these gains back. To defend them, we’ve got to put more movement back in the labor movement. That’s what TDU is all about.

Enjoy the long weekend with family and friends. Wear your Teamster colors proudly at the Labor Day Parade. Then let’s hit the ground running this fall working to rebuild union power.

TDU members are gearing up for our 2014 Convention in Cleveland from November 7-9.

Now’s the time to book your travel and make plans to attend 3-days of the best educational workshops for Teamsters around and join the growing movement to Take Back Our Union.

Click here to register for the 2014 TDU Convention today. Or give us a call at 313-842-2600.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Casino Teamsters Bet on Solidarity and Win

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 09:51

August 29, 2014: Teamsters at the Twin River Casino took a gamble that solidarity could beat corporate greed at Twin River Casino. Now they’ve beaten the house.

The money never stops flowing at Twin River Casino, the largest gambling and entertainment venue in Rhode Island.

But the winnings always stopped when it came to Local 251 members who work as parking valets at the Casino. Until now.

With their old local union leadership cozy with management, the odds were stacked against them. Teamster parking valets took concessionary contracts that created three tiers of employees.

The lowest tier of workers made just $2.89 an hour (plus tips). If they wanted family healthcare they had to pay for the coverage themselves.

This summer, Local 251 members at the Casino bet that solidarity could pay off—and they won a new contract with higher wages, work rule improvements and affordable healthcare for members and their families.  

How They Did it

Local 251 members elected new union leadership this year and embraced a new approach to contract negotiations. For the first time, rank-and-file members sat on the negotiating committee.

When Twin River Casino management refused to budge, members Voted No to reject the Casino’s concessionary contract offer.

Then workers took their case to the public. They leafleted the Casino and talked to customers. They launched a social media campaign under the theme “Poverty Wages are a losing bet” that targeted fans of the Casino’s own Facebook page. 

Local 251 joined forces with the Working Families Party to launch an online petition telling “Twin River Casino should pay its parking valets a fair wage and provide affordable healthcare coverage for their families."

The Working Families Party (WFP) is a grassroots political party of unions and community groups, including some Teamster locals. They teamed up with Teamsters Local 804 in another winning campaign to save the jobs of 250 Teamsters fired by UPS in New York City.

More than 5,000 public supporters signed the Twin River Casino petition in less than 24 hours. The day after the petition was launched, management sat down with the Local 251 bargaining committee and the Casino folded.

The new contract raises wages and delivers affordable family healthcare coverage to workers and their families.

In addition the new contract improves members’ rights and protections on the job, including stronger job security, the right to honor primary picket lines, a better grievance procedure, fairer disciplinary policies, and improvements in union access, job bidding, seniority, and more.

When Twin River management walked into the first bargaining meeting they said, “We like things the way they are.” Members called their bluff. The Casino had nothing. Thanks to rank-and-file unity and organized public support, members had a full house!

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Hoffa Targets Teamster Voting Rights

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 09:42

August 29, 2014:  Hoffa administration lawyers are filing a motion before Federal Judge Loretta Preska in a bid to curtail fair, independently supervised elections in the Teamsters.

Judge Preska can’t just hear from Hoffa. She needs to hear from us.

More than 10,000 Teamsters have signed an Open Letter to Judge Preska—including over 3,700 online signatures. 

Help defend our right to vote:

Sign the petition online and make your voice heard.

Email a link to the petition to your friends and asking them to and sharing it on your Facebook wall?

Issues: Hoffa Watch
Categories: Labor News, Unions

We've Topped 10,000!

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 09:28

August 29, 2014:  More than 10,000 Teamsters have signed the petition to save the Right to Vote for International Union officers. There's still time to make our voices heard.

Hoffa administration lawyers are filing a motion before Federal Judge Loretta Preska in a bid to curtail fair, independently supervised elections in the Teamsters.

We launched a petition drive to the judge and set a goal of 10,000 signatures by Labor Day—and we have topped that goal!

More than 10,600 Teamsters have signed petitions to save the Right to Vote for International Union officers. This includes more than 3,600 Teamsters who have signed our online petition as well as 7,000+ petition signatures that have been collected by TDU members.

More signatures are coming in every day and there's still time to make our voices heard.

What Happens Next

The Hoffa administration is filing papers with Judge Preska. Some time in September, Judge Preska is expected to meet with attorneys for the Hoffa administration and the U.S. Attorney. 

Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) will present our position to the court—and we will deliver petition signatures from over 10,000 members. A decision from the Judge could come in early Fall.

There’s still time for Teamsters to make their voices heard.

Members have until September 10 to sign the online petition or mail in their petition signatures. 

Help defend the Right to Vote.

Sign the petition online and make your voice heard.

Copy and Email this link  to your friends sharing it on your Facebook wall.

Download a petition to collect signatures and a leaflet to give to other Teamsters.  

Mail your completed petitions to:

TDU
PO Box 10128
Detroit, MI 48210

If you’d like to help with this petition effort, contact TDU at 313-842-2600 or info [at] tdu [dot] org. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and mail you a packet of materials immediately. 

Issues: TDUHoffa Watch
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Appeals Court Rules Some FedEx Ground Workers Are Employees

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 12:21
Transport TopicsAugust 28, 2014View the original piece

In the latest decision on worker status, a federal appeals court in California ruled that 2,300 workers at FedEx Corp.’s Ground unit were employees and not contractors to the package delivery company.

The 35-page decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the Ground workers were misclassified as independent contractors, in violation of California law.

Click here to read more at Transport Topics.

Issues: Grocery
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Shipping containers: 60 years in the box

ILWU - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:04

Gene Vrana, pictured in the bandanna, working on drums cargo at Pier 32, San Francisco, 1980.

On the 60th anniversary of the patent of the shipping container, the website, Tomorrow, collects seven stories with different perspectives on shipping containers and how they have changed the world. One of those perspectives is ILWU pensioner and former ILWU Education Director, Gene Vrana:

 

My generation, the guys that came in in the mid to late ’60s, just saw it change right before our eyes. Not only was the technology changing but the relationships on the job changed because you were no longer working in a gang of eight to 12 guys. You were working maybe two together, or even solitary, dealing with different aspects of either machinery or gear associated with machinery for moving the containers on and off the ship.

With the change in the social aspect, along with the technology, it just felt that the work experience within any day was just not the same.

I worked in a gang that only worked the old general break, bulk cargo up until ’82. Those of us that were in a gang and working with 12 other guys and talking politics and talking family and whatever, had a very different work life than guys who were driving cranes or other container moving technology where they were isolated during the work shift.

A more unpredictable schedule was more common with the container ships. The ships would come in and turn around – and we’re talking now about the ’70s and ’80s – in between 32 and 36 hours, max. The overtime shift occurs on the last shift in order to finish working the ship, getting it ready to sail.

So if they’re sailing with more frequency, the frequency of working late is greater. That kind of thing had more of an effect than on the old fashioned ship that would be in port for 7-8 days and you would go to the same ship and even the same hold of the ship day after day working from 8 ’til 5.

Read the full article here. 

Categories: Unions

PMA and ILWU Update on Contract Talks: Tentative Agreement Reached on Health Benefits, Negotiations Continue on Other Issues

ILWU - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 09:38

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 26, 2014) – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced today that they have reached a tentative agreement on terms for health benefits, subject to agreement on the other issues in the negotiations. The parties have agreed not to discuss the terms of this tentative agreement as negotiations continue.

Maintenance of health benefits (MOB) is an important part of the contract being negotiated between employers represented by the PMA and workers represented by the ILWU.

The contract being negotiated covers nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports. The previous agreement expired at 5 p.m. on July 1, 2014. Talks began on May 12 and are continuing

 

Download a the press release here. (PDF).

Categories: Unions

Ex-Kroger CEO Admits He Was Paid A 'Ludicrous' Amount

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 07:02
Kevin ShortThe Huffington PostAugust 27, 2014View the original piece

CEO pay has skyrocketed over the last few decades, and corporate leaders are usually tight-lipped on the subject.

But we were offered a rare moment of candor last month from David Dillon, chairman and former CEO of the grocery chain Kroger, who called his own eight-figure paycheck "ludicrous" during an Aspen Ideas Festival panel.

Click here to read more at The Huffington Post.

Issues: Grocery
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Longshore Workers’ Vote Ratifies Northwest Grain Agreement;  Union Workers to Return to Jobs on Wednesday

ILWU - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 08:59

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 26, 2014) – Longshore workers who load grain in Pacific Northwest export terminals have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with several multinational grain companies. The vote included members of ILWU Local 8 in Portland, Ore., and Local 4 in Vancouver, Local 21 in Longview, Local 19 in Seattle, and Local 23 in Tacoma, Wash., who collectively voted 88.4% in favor of a tentative agreement with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, United Grain Corporation and Columbia Grain Inc. that will be in effect until May 31, 2018. Members voting in favor totaled 1,475; those voting against numbered 193.

Negotiations for the new agreement began in August of 2012, involved 70 separate sessions, and included lockouts at Portland’s Columbia Grain and Vancouver’s United Grain facilities. Terms of the agreement include work rule changes and wage increases over the life of the agreement.

ILWU members will resume their jobs at the locked-out facilities on Wednesday. All picketing has ceased, and the parties have agreed to drop all pending NLRB and other legal actions associated with the dispute.

Bargaining was difficult, but in the end, both sides compromised significantly from their original positions, resulting in a workable collective bargaining agreement that preserves the work of the ILWU-represented workforce and fosters stability for the export grain industry.

The men and women of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have loaded grain for export in the Pacific Northwest since 1934.

Categories: Unions

Starbucks: Give us a fair work week!

IWW - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:46

Please sign and share our petition calling on Starbucks to provide fair schedules for their employees!

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) has been working with the media since August 10th to bring attention to scheduling practices in the Food and Retail Industry, and Starbucks in particular.

read more

Categories: Unions

Baltimore Jimmy John’s Workers Stop Work, March on Boss

IWW - Sun, 08/24/2014 - 15:37

By the IWW Jimmy John's Workers Union

BALTIMORE, MD- On Friday morning, August 22nd, Jimmy John’s workers at Pratt Street engaged in a short work stoppage and marched on the boss to demand the right to organize without retaliation. They gathered in front of the store at approximately 10:30 AM. Workers and supporters made speeches outside of the store. The workers told stories of their working conditions and retaliation for organizing.

read more

Categories: Unions

IRB Charges All Local 710 Officers

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:01

August 21, 2014: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has moved to bring charges against all the officers of Chicago Local 710. According to the report of charges dated August 15, all members of the Executive Board violated their fiduciary duty when they repeatedly approved the purchase of excess visa gift cards under the control of Local Secretary Treasurer Pat Flynn.

Flynn was charged in July, and on July 30 the local was put into trusteeship following a recommendation by the IRB. Those actions are detailed here.

The new charges hit Local 710 president Mike Sweeney and fellow officers Gerald Pauli, Charles DeCola, Larry Alexander, Anthony Lamy, and Kevin Wagoner. They were already removed from office when the trusteeship was imposed. Now they face a hearing and possible expulsion or suspension from Teamster membership.

The report states that between 2008 and September 2013, the officers breached their fiduciary duty and failed to protect the members’ assets. For example, in November 2011 they approved the purchase of 1000 visa gift cards to be given to meeting attendees, but only 600 members were present, and the remaining 400 cards were under Flynn’s personal control.

Hoffa appointed International vice president John Coli as Trustee of Local 710. Coli has no experience in representing the UPS, freight, trucking, and grocery Teamsters who make up the 13,000 member local. He has political operative Brian Rainville running the local. Rainville was paid $178,080 in 2013 by the International and Chicago Joint Council 25. Some 7000 UPS Teamsters in Local 710 rejected a concessionary contract last February by 73% No vote, and have heard nothing since about negotiating an improved contract.

Issues: Local Union ReformHoffa Watch
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Local 4 longshoreman helps save life of Vancouver police officer

ILWU - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:37

A Vancouver, WA police officer is alive today thanks to the medical training and quick-thinking of ILWU Local 4 longshoreman James Bridger Jr. On June 30th Bridger was leaving his neighborhood when he saw Earlene Anderson holding a police officer in her arms as he slumped to the ground. Bridger knew something was wrong and immediately stopped to help.

Officer Dustin Goudschaal had been shot several times while making a traffic stop. Anderson was driving in the opposite direction when the shooting occurred. She ran over to help after the suspect driving a black truck sped off just before Bridger came on the scene. Goudschaal had been struck several times in his bullet proof vest and once in the neck which was bleeding profusely. He was unable to speak because of his wounds.

After helping apply pressure to the bandage, he reached across Goudschaal’s chest, grabbed his radio, and yelled: “Code 33!” He said that an officer was shot and that they needed help immediately.

Bridger had worked as reserve officer with the Battle Ground Police Department and as a volunteer with Fire District 3. “Even though it’s been a few years, my training just sort of kicked in,” said Bridger. Goudschaal thanked Bridger when he visited him in the hospital the next day. “He told me, ‘It’s because of you that I’m here,’” Bridger said.

A few months earlier, Bridger’s relationship with the Vancouver police was not as friendly. Bridger had been arrested for “malicious mischief” after he was struck by a van while walking the picket line outside of the United Grain terminal. The van driver was not arrested.

Both Bridger and Anderson were honored by the Vancouver City Council on July 7 for their role in helping to save the life of Officer Goudschaal. Vancouver police officers lined the walls of the council chambers during the meeting.

Goudschaal was still recovering from the shooting and was unable to attend. A friend read a statement from Goudschaal and his wife Kate: “I choose to believe, that for whatever reason, those two good Samaritans were meant to be there in that moment to help Dustin, and for this, we are eternally grateful.”

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Bridger said. “This was just one union brother helping another union brother. That’s the way I see it.”

Categories: Unions

47th Annual Pensioners Convention

ILWU - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:28

The 47th Annual Convention of the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association will convene at 9:00 AM on Monday, September 15, and adjourn at about Noon on September 17, 2014.

Place: Holiday Inn – Vancouver Centre
711 West Broadway
Vancouver, British Columbia

Contact your local Pensioners Club to get a registration form and lodging information.

• Labor leaders and lawmakers from Canada will address the Convention

• ILWU Officers, the Coast Committee, and Local Officers will be join us.

• Help welcome our guests from Australia, Colombia, and perhaps other nations.

• You will hear a report on 2014 U.S. Longshore Division Negotiations.

• Information about health care and pensions will be provided.

The Vancouver Host Committee has scheduled a number of fun and exciting activities and side trips. A Banquet will be held Tuesday night. Join the fun. Enjoy a fine meal. Dance your socks off. Meet and greet old friends and new.

For more information contact your local Pensioners Club.

See you there!

In unity, Rich Austin – President, PCPA

 

Categories: Unions

Chicago Movers Stage Groundbreaking Strike

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 09:22
Kari LydersenIn These TimesAugust 19, 2014View the original piece

Every morning, workers at Golan’s Moving & Storage in the Chicago suburb of Skokie are ordered to arrive at work by 6 a.m. to prepare trucks for the day. If they are late, they can be suspended for several days or otherwise disciplined. Yet they typically don’t even start getting paid until about 8 a.m.—when they board a truck bound for their assignment.

This situation is among the many injustices that spurred Golan’s workers to organize with the faith-based workers rights group Arise Chicago last year before unionizing with Teamsters Local 705. Since December 2013, the first contract negotiations have dragged on, with management canceling planned sessions 12 times in six months, according to the Teamsters.

So on July 28, about four-fifths of Golan’s workers walked out on strike. Negotiations are theoretically continuing, but Teamsters Local 705 business agent Richard De Vries says that the company officials walked out of their most recent session, on August 14, after just 41 minutes. 

The union has filed various Unfair Labor Practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board, and a federal mediator was brought in to oversee the negotiations. Still, De Vries tells In These Times that these measures have so far not prevented Golan’s from essentially refusing to bargain. He thinks that the company is trying to delay signing a contract until December, at which point under labor law they can call for an election to decertify the union—because a year will have passed with no contract signed.

“This is our remedy: going on strike,” says De Vries. He reports that more than 80 workers out of a total of about 100 are on strike, including members of the company’s two separate sections, which do local and long-distance moves.

On Saturday, August 16, more than 100 supporters, including Teamsters members from other companies, joined the workers on the picket line. Leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths spoke to the crowd and asked the owners—Israelis who reportedly named the company for the region Israel captured from Syria during the Six-Day War—to recognize the concepts of workers’ rights and human dignity enshrined in all three world religions.

Onesimo Peña was one of the workers who contacted Arise last summer, frustrated with what he told In These Times was “so many abuses” suffered by his co-workers. He also notes that in more than a decade working for the company, his wages have only risen from $12 to $12.50 an hour, even though he has often been called on in emergencies or for important jobs.

“We’ve tried too many times to get the owners to listen to us but they wouldn’t,” says Peña. “So we went to Arise Chicago.”

In turn, Arise connected the workers with Teamsters Local 705. And marshaling support for unionizing was easy, Peña remembers.

“Everyone was tired of this situation,” he says.

Shortly after the workers voted to unionize, Peña says his wages increased to $14 an hour. The company also started paying overtime and made a few other concessions, including with regard to safety. De Vries says he can only speculate as to why, though Golan's may have been trying to dissuade workers from going on strike or trying to weaken the union in bargaining.

Golan’s workers don’t have insurance, paid sick days or vacation days or any other benefits. According to organizers, such as Arise Chicago’s Jorge Mujica, “There is wage theft all over the place,” including the aforementioned unpaid preparation work time, and logged hours that go missing from paychecks until workers complain.

Plus, workers’ wages are often further reduced by fines for a wide range of infractions. Jose Reyes, a Golan’s employee for 10 years, says he was once fined $700 because one of the other movers in the crew he oversaw had a small tear in his pants. Reyes tells In These Times that workers could also be charged for forgetting to leave the keys to their personal car with management before they head off to a job, or for failing to call the customer to say they are running late.

“There’s no warning, you get back from the job and they are waiting for you with a fine,” he says.

He and Peña also say managers have offered them incentives for reporting other workers for violations.

“They approached me and said, ‘If you turn people in, you will have your job forever, you can have a raise,’” says Reyes, who is on the union negotiating committee. “They were trying to buy me off.”

Worker Miguel Flores tells In These Times that under the terms worked by long-distance drivers who move customers to other states, he has earned only $40 for spending 10 hours unloading boxes at a home. (Mujica explains that this is likely technically legal under labor provisions for interstate commerce.)  

Movers in the long-distance unit are particularly upset that they are not compensated for waiting time of up to a day or more if customers are not ready when they arrive. These employees are paid based on factors such as miles driven and the volume of the move. So when a customer isn’t ready, they’re forced to spend time on the road unpaid, sleeping and waiting in their truck when they otherwise could be earning money.

De Vries says payment for such “detention time” is a major demand in negotiations. So far, though, management has offered only token concessions during the negotiation sessions that have occurred. “They have agreed to pay for showers at a truck stop,” which cost a few dollars, he says. And in response to union demands for paid days off, Golan’s offered a total of $10 a day for up to 10 vacation days, De Vries continues.

Golan’s also employs workers under the J-1 visa “work and study-based exchange” program, drawing students from around the world for 90-day stays in the United States. Silviu Radu joined the program while studying for his Masters in business administration at a university in his home country of Romania. After starting work at Golan’s in June and got to know many of his co-workers. He hadn’t been present for many of the complications surrounding organizing and negotiating, so the strike came as a bit of a surprise to him.

“I rode my bike to work and everyone was outside,” he tells In These Times. “I was like ‘Hey guys, what’s going on?’”

Once he learned about the walkout, though, he promptly joined it, as did several other J-1 workers, according to Radu and De Vries. The visa does not allow companies involved in walkouts to staff J-1 employees, so Radu is looking for another job while spending time on the picket lines.

“You get to bond with your colleagues,” Radu says. “These are good people, hard-working people who help each other.”

The J-1 visa—which has drawn controversy in the past over its reported abuse by employers including Hershey’s—cost Radu about $2,000, he says, including other fees connected to the program. Even so, he notes, laughing, that he “was making $10.50 an hour on the truck.”

For its part, Golan’s has largely responded to the actions with denial. Two large green signs outside the company, dated August 12 and addressed to workers from company secretary Yehuda Bitton, read: “The many reckless and dishonest statements about Golan’s and me are fabrications by the union and its representatives. Those of you who have worked for Golan’s for many years know these statements are not true.”

A Golan’s official inside the company during the rally declined to talk, and the spokesperson he referred In These Times to did not return a call for comment.

The company has also attempted to play on the fears on many of its workers regarding deportation. The signs, which are written in English and Spanish, go on to read that the union has threatened to call immigration authorities. De Vries says the U.S. State Department found out about the strike through the J-1 students, likely spurring the company to make that statement. The union has not contacted immigration authorities and would not do so, he argues.

Various workers tell In These Times they are confident the strike will force the company into meaningful negotiations for a contract with significant improvements. They say they’ve heard customers have canceled jobs because of the strike, and that little or no work has been happening at Golan’s. During the Saturday rally a moving truck entered the facility, but because it was manned by only one employee, De Vries said it was likely just a “show.” “You can’t move furniture with one person,” he says.

“We’ve seen trucks leaving and then find them parked 20 blocks away; they’re not working,” Mujica adds.

De Vries says that very few moving companies are organized, and most non-unionized workplaces do not offer their largely immigrant workforce insurance or benefits. Hence, the Golan’s workers’ unionization and strike could be seen as a precedent-setting development for the industry.

Both Reyes and Peña says they take pride in their work and want to continue at Golan’s, only under better conditions. Still, Reyes says he tells his three kids, only half joking, “When you see a Golan’s truck, run and hide, so you don’t end up like me.”

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Here's The Real Reason Why The Trucking Industry Is Running Out Of Drivers

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 07:59
Mamta Badkar and Rob WileBusiness InsiderAugust 19, 2014View the original piece

Higher driving costs and falling pay have created a truck-driver shortage that's likely to worsen in the coming years.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the U.S. is short 30,000 truck drivers — a number expected to surge to 239,000 by 2022.

In July 2013, new federal hours-of-service rules went into effect. 

The key provision was a limit to the use of a 34-hour "restart." Drivers have a 70-hour-a-week cap on how much time they can be on the road. Previously, they'd been able to artificially reset that cap to zero if they took 34 consecutive hours off. Now, many are unable to do so.

As a result, according to a survey from the American Transportation Research Institute, more than 80% of motor carriers have experienced a productivity loss, with nearly half saying they require more drivers to haul the same amount of freight.

"Smaller 'owner/operator' firms are increasingly dropping by the wayside as the cost of operations and maintenance are simply becoming too expensive to stay in business," Paul Pittman, a planner at a North Carolina-based logisitcs company, told Business Insider by email. 

So drivers are suddenly faced with the choice of leaving the profession entirely or moving to a larger company where wages are likely to be lower. 

"As controls continue to tighten, many of the existing drivers currently employed are turning to other areas of employment simply to get off the road and escape some of the regulations implemented to govern their operations," Pittman said.

To hang on, small operators are forced to cut corners. For Jeff, a driver who asked to be identified by only his first name, the pay isn't the biggest issue — it's the compromises some firms are making on driver compliance.

"With how my lifestyle is [the pay is] pretty decent. I don’t go out and blow money on speed boats, or the best electronics, or hookers and blow," Jeff said. "I’m married and I have four children. We prioritize our finances. Two years ago we finally bought an HDTV. My main issue is the safety aspect."

Violating Rules

His primary issue with trucking companies is the pressure they put on drivers to violate federal rules. Jeff worked for a small outfit in the Midwest. The owner of that company, he says, wanted him to take a dry van load from Hubbard, Ohio, to Syracuse, New York, which is about 327 miles.

Jeff explained that this trip takes longer for trucks than it does for cars, because trucks carry heavier loads, and it takes longer for them to speed up and slow down. It would take a truck about five hours and 15 minutes from Hubbard to Syracuse. 

The owner, whom Jeff didn't want named, asked him to drive back to Hubbard empty, do a drop-and-hook (drop one trailer, hook another) and take another trailer up to Binghamton, New York, the same day. And the trip from Hubbard to Binghamton is about five and a half hours, meaning a round trip would only leave him about 30 minutes of driving for the day and legally Jeff couldn't.

"When you're non-compliant as a driver you run the risk of fatigue and the risk of hurting other people," he said. "And as a driver it's my license on the line." Jeff said he was asked by multiple trucking companies to falsify his logs, but he refused to.

"I consider myself a safety-oriented driver, and I have found that is a bad thing," Jeff said. "Because since I got my CDL [commercial driver's license] in 2008, I have worked for about 10 different trucking companies. That doesn't look good because it looks like it is job hopping ... I'm sticking to my guns."

Time Away From Home

Another problem is lack of time spent at home. Todd Feucht of Wisconsin says drivers can expect to spend as little as 52 days at home a year. Feucht, who hauls oversize loads, averages about three to five weeks. Last year he was home 54 days, including his vacation days. "Back in the day you were treated like a knight, but now you're treated like a peon," Feucht says.

All of this helps explain why the turnover rate at large truckload carriers was 92% annualized in Q1, according to the ATA. Turnover refers to the rate at which drivers leave the industry and are replaced.

"One-hundred percent turnover doesn’t mean that every driver left," ATA chief economist Bob Costello says. "If you keep a driver for 90 days, the rate generally drops in half. However, there are a group of drivers that churn, and they generally stay at a carrier for a short length of time (just weeks or a couple of months). Many drivers stay with a carrier for years."

Getting Squeezed

Meanwhile, drivers with less experience or bargaining power get squeezed. Feucht has been driving trucks for 20 years and thinks trucking companies need to be more honest when recruiting.

The new drivers are "greener than grass," he said. Those who attempt to lease trucks quickly discover the significant cost of maintenance and overhead. Young drivers who go this route end up having very little to show for it. 

"I meet these guys at truck-stops and they can barely afford to eat ramen during the week," Feucht told Business Insider. "They're dropping $850 on a truck a week."

Truck drivers typically get paid hourly or by the mile. Some get a percentage of the load. If you're getting less than 33 cents a mile "you're getting ripped off," Jeff, a 36-year old truck driver from Ohio, told Business Insider.

The truck drivers suggest if these companies want to see this turnover decrease they need to focus on improving pay, improving training for new entrants, and they need to not push them to violate federal regulations.

There may finally be some movement on this front. Last month, Swift, one of the largest haulers in the U.S., announced it would refocus expenditures on better labor conditions for employees, including higher wages.

"After assessing the current and expected environment, we believe the best investment we can make at this time, for all of our stakeholders, is in our drivers," the firm said in its earnings release. "Our goal is to clear the path for our drivers by helping them overcome challenges, eliminate wait times and take home more money."


 

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Teamster Rail Workers Revolt vs Driving Solo

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 07:41

August 19, 2014: There’s a rank and file rebellion brewing among rail workers, and Teamster engineers are in the thick of it. They are fighting back against a deal made secretly by the conductors union with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.

Most rail engineers belong to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) which is a part of the Teamsters Union. The organization leading the charge against the deal to allow one-person crews is Rail Workers United (RWU), a solidarity network of rail workers in various unions.

Read the story here:  http://labornotes.org/2014/08/rail-workers-revolt-against-driving-solo

Categories: Labor News, Unions

ILWU recyclers win big raises in Oakland’s new waste franchise deal

ILWU - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:41

An 18-month campaign by Bay Area recycling workers to improve pay and benefits hit a new milestone on July 30 when the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to raise recycler wages in the city’s new 10-year residential waste and recycling service franchise agreements.

“This victory means that ILWU recycling workers have successfully implemented their higher wage and benefit standards at two of the largest city franchises in Alameda County,” said ILWU Vice President Ray Familathe. “This is an impressive demonstration of the recyclers’ persistence and courage.”

Recyclers organize

Recyclers launched their campaign on February 2, 2013, when hundreds gathered for a historic “Convention of Recycling Workers,” at the Local 6 union hall in Oakland.

Workers employed by four different recycling firms in Alameda County attended the event. They were joined by religious, labor, immigrant rights, environmental and political allies who all pledged to support the effort for better wages and improved safety through the “Campaign for Sustainable Recycling.” At the Convention, workers voted to adopt a new wage standard that would raise hourly pay to $20 – almost double what many recycling workers were being paid – and include affordable family health benefits.

Action at Waste Management

Recycling workers employed by Waste Management in Oakland and San Leandro led the way early in the campaign by demanding raises, even before last February’s Convention of Recycling Workers. Rank-and-file union leaders met on weekends in the Local 6 union hall to make plans for involving co-workers in the campaign to win a raise. They circulated petitions and held meetings with management.

When the company refused to support a request for real raises, workers protested in front of the company’s headquarters in Oakland. Then the company retaliated against immigrant workers, so an “unfair labor practices” strike was organized on March 15. The protest shut down the company’s East Bay operation beginning at 2am. Teamster and Machinist Union officials agreed to support the strike for several hours. Within months, the company agreed to settle separate ILWU contracts covering ILWU workers at the landfill and clerical/customer service units – but not recyclers.

Victory in Fremont

The first success in adopting the new wage standard was achieved last December by 65 recycling workers employed by the BLT recycling company in Fremont. Like the Waste Management workers, recyclers in Fremont also organized actions on the job to demand raises. They circulated petitions and presented them to management as a group to demonstrate unity.

When the company agreed to work together with the union, they jointly approached Fremont City Council members about passing a modest residential rate increase of just one penny per day from each ratepayer so recyclers could earn a living wage of $20.94 by 2019. The Council adopted the small rate increase and the company agreed to begin paying the scheduled pay raises.

Management sparks big strike

Unlike the experience with BLT in Fremont, officials at Waste Management and California Waste Solutions continued opposing real raises for recycling workers during 2013. Both companies offered recyclers only meager raises and refused to cooperate with workers by approaching the City Council about including the new wage standard in the city’s pending franchise agreement. Frustrations reached a boiling point on July 30 when workers from both companies united in a joint strike action. Two hundred recycling workers converged on the Oakland City Hall where their noisy picket lines and rally received major media attention – and plenty of notice from elected officials.

Groups of workers met during the day with City Council members and state legislators. They gathered in the late afternoon for a rally on the City Hall steps, then went inside to speak at the City Council meeting. Dozens of workers spoke at the rally and meeting, explaining why their families needed the raises to survive, and urged the Council to include a recycling wage standard in the new franchise agreement.

Community support

The efforts by workers in Fremont and Oakland were supported by allies in the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling (CSR) who attended Council meetings, sent letters of support, and joined workers to meet with individual Council members. Organizations participating in the CSR include the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Worksafe, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, Center for Environmental Health, Northern California Recycling Association, California Immigrants Policy Center, Mujeres Unidas & Activas, Clean Energy Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, and SEIU 1021.

Disappointment with WM

After 18 months of worker and community action, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously on July 30, 2014 to include the new recycler wage standard in their franchise agreement. This marked an important victory – but it also disappointed 130 recycling workers employed by Waste Management (WM) because that firm’s bid to continue providing those services for another 10 years was unanimously rejected by the City Council.

Waste Management has been collecting all of Oakland’s residential waste and processing half the City’s recycling for decades, but that work will now end on July 1, 2015 when California Waste Solutions assumes all those responsibilities.

Without the new Oakland franchise agreement and revenue stream it provides for worker wage increases, Waste Management is less likely to provide recyclers the same pay raises that are now part of Oakland’s new franchise agreement with California Waste Solutions (CWS).

Surprising shake-up

The City Council’s vote surprised observers who thought Waste Management was likely to continue sharing the franchise agreement with CWS, a much smaller, locally-owned competitor who employs unionized mechanics and drivers.

Labor relations factor

But the bid submitted by Waste Management was more expensive for ratepayers than the one submitted by CWS. And CWS included some extra services in their bid which appealed to Council members. Officials at both Waste Management and California Waste Solutions initially resisted supporting the pay raises sought by recycling workers that became part of the new franchise agreement. A few days before the final City Council hearing on July 30, California Waste Solutions signed a new contract with Local 6 members that guaranteed a schedule of pay raises and family health benefits with no monthly premium cost share.

On the day of the City Council decision, Waste Management officials met with the Local 6 Negotiating Committee and made significant movement, but failed to reach agreement. As The Dispatcher was going to press, a follow-up meeting had been scheduled for August 12.

ILWU leaders and staff refused to take sides or play favorites with either company during the franchise selection process, because ILWU members were employed by both firms.

Rubbed the wrong way

At the City Council meeting on July 30, it was clear that Waste Management had rubbed City Council members the wrong way. During the meeting, one Council member recalled how the company had angered many by locking-out Teamster and Machinist union members during a month-long contract dispute in 2007 that brought the city’s garbage collection to a halt and triggered a public health crisis.

During that dispute, ILWU recycling workers courageously honored the Teamster and Machinist union picket lines, despite threats and retaliation from Waste Management. The company’s decision to outsource dozens of Oakland-based customer service jobs done by ILWU members after the lockout was cited as a sore point by several City Council members. City Council members also complained that top Waste Management officials showed a lack of “flexibility” and were “unwilling to compromise.” When the meeting was over and the vote was taken, not a single member of the City Council supported Waste Management.

Some layoffs possible When Waste Management’s franchise agreement with Oakland expires next July, there will be some layoffs at Waste Management, but it is not clear how many. The city’s new franchise agreement includes a provision – supported by the union – allowing workers to transfer from Waste Management to new positions at California Waste Solutions. There may be waiting lists for some jobs.
Another route to raises

Fortunately, Waste Management has franchise agreements with other cities besides Oakland that provide the company with a steady revenue stream and secure employment for recycling workers, even after the July 2015 franchise agreement expires with Oakland. The other franchise agreements are with the cities of Emeryville, Albany, and Hayward plus the Castro Valley and Ora Loma Sanitation Districts.

Elected officials in those cities can authorize tiny rate increases that will provide enough revenue for Waste Management to pay better wages and good benefits for recycling workers.

“We’ve learned from the Oakland experience and can apply those lessons as we approach other cities for their support to help us – and it will only cost those residents a few pennies a month to provide us with living wages and decent benefits,” said Waste Management recycling worker Xiomara Martinez.

Extending a hand

Local 6 will continue extending a hand to Waste Management officials in an effort to achieve the same labor management cooperation that helped recycling workers in Fremont.

“We’re hoping that officials from the company and other unions will work with us this time, because all of us should be working together to solve this problem,” said recycling worker Mirella Jauregui.

Categories: Unions

Central States Extends YRC’s $100M Debt till 2019

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 12:37

August 15, 2014: The Central States Pension Fund has given YRCW an extension until 2019 to repay $109 million that YRC owes the pension fund. This was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in the 2014 First Quarter Report filed by the Independent Special Counsel on July 30.

That report, along with the Financial and Analytical Report obtained by TDU, indicates that the fund’s assets fell from $18.7 billion to $18.5 billion during the first quarter.

YRC has owed the $109 million to the fund since 2009, when it failed to make required payments, and has twice extended the deadline for making a balloon payment. The latest extension came by vote of the Central States union and management trustees in January, 2014. The trustees are reluctant to strain YRC’s weak finances. YRC makes interest payments of $550,000 per month.

While $109 million is small compared to the fund’s assets, it is still a very significant debt obligation to the troubled fund, as some YRC Teamsters and Central States retirees have already noted.

Central States lost $209 million in assets in the first quarter        because the investment return of 1.7% could not keep up with pension payments.

Meanwhile, the Central States Health and Welfare Fund continues to run in the black and build up its outsized reserves. As its number of Teamster participants has more than doubled, with the addition of UPS part-time and full-time members, future reports will bear watching closely. Many UPS Teamsters recently put into the Central States Fund (TeamCare) are finding that certain benefits are falling short of promises made by the Hoffa-Hall administration.

Issues: Pension and BenefitsFreight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

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